Retro: Opening of Mexborough’s ‘people’s’ hospital

The opening of Montagu Hospital, Mexborough
The opening of Montagu Hospital, Mexborough

Thriving Mexborough Montagu Hospital was opened officially on May 18, 113 years ago by James Montagu.

It opened initially as a small cottage hospital and its patients were mainly local industrial workers. Treatment in Mexborough saved any injured person having to journey all the way in to Doncaster.

Landowner Andrew Montagu offered the new hospital committee a building on long lease with low rent. But local people from around Mexborough and the Dearne Valley also agreed to donate a weekly halfpenny from their wages to help finance the venture.

Initially the hospital had just 14 beds and two staff. It moved to its Adwick Road site in 1904, when Montagu trustees acquired the necessary land for £756.

Expansion occurred in 1909 with an X-ray department, and a children’s ward followed in 1914. Then came an operating theatre, mortuary, and additional services.

Weekly payments from local people went up from 1d per week to 2d, and from 1935 Wath Bolton Urban County Councils agreed to pay towards upkeep of the medical wards if Mexborough, Swinton and Thurnscoe councils did similarly.

It continued to grow, eventually becoming a linked NHS Trust with Doncaster Royal Infirmary, that in turn became Doncaster and Bassetlaw NHS Foundation Trust in 2001.

Local businessman Fred Green left a sum of £11.5 million to Montagu Hospital services in his will, in 1997, that has helped with subsequent improvements.

Today the hospital has many services including a state-of-the-art clinical simulation centre, a department for oral and maxillo-facial surgery and orthodontics, a minor injuries unit and a renal dialysis unit.

Its multi-million pounds rehabilitation centre, developed in 2013, was a trailblazing project and is an ongoing success.